Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010

  • Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010
  • Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010
  • Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010
  • Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010

During World War II, the U.S. Armed Forces established a policy that discharged homosexuals regardless of their behavior. In 1981, the Defense Department prohibited gay and lesbian military members from serving in its ranks with a policy that stated, “Homosexuality is incompatible with military service.” In the decade following, 17,000 service members were discharged from their duties for being homosexual.

This spurred a new policy called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” during the Clinton Administration. In November 1993, the Defense Authorization Act put “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” into effect, allowing gay and lesbian citizens to serve in the military as long as they did not make their sexual orientation public. Commanders were prohibited from inquiring about a service member’s orientation provided that they adhered to this condition. Additionally, the policy forbid military personal from discriminating against or harassing closeted homosexual service members and applicants.

By 2008, more than 12,000 officers had been discharged from the military for publicizing their homosexuality. On December 18, 2010, the Senate overturned the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy by a 65-31 vote, which President Barack Obama signed a few days later. The repeal allows gay and lesbian military members to serve openly in the armed forces.

The first and signature pages of this document are on display in the “Landmark Document” case in the Records of Rights exhibition in the David M. Rubenstein Gallery of the National Archives in Washington, DC, from December 16, 2015, through March 15, 2016.

Past Featured Records
  • Courting Confrontation: The Arrest of Susan B. Anthony
    Courting Confrontation: The Arrest of Susan B. Anthony
    Thursday, November 3, 2022 – Thursday, January 12, 2023
    East Rotunda Gallery

    On November 5, 1872, Susan B. Anthony and 14 other women attempted to vote in Rochester, New York, challenging section... Read more

  • Featured Document Display: Remembering the Hollywood 10: Screenwriter Ring Lardner, Jr.
    Featured Document Display: Remembering the Hollywood 10: Screenwriter Ring Lardner, Jr.

    Thursday, September 8, 2022 – Wednesday, November 2, 2022
    East Rotunda Gallery

    Early in the Cold War, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) investigated allegations of Communist activity in the film industry. The committee’s mandate was... Read more

  • Black Wall Street: 100 Years Since the Tulsa Race Massacre
    Black Wall Street: 100 Years Since the Tulsa Race Massacre

    Thursday, April 1, 2021 – Thursday, June 17, 2021
    Online

    “— were dead. Figures are omitted [because] NO ONE KNOWS.” —Red Cross Report


    On Memorial Day 1921, a Black shoe shiner named Dick Rowland rode in an elevator with white operator Sarah Page. The next day,... Read more

  • Victory in Japan: 75th Anniversary of the End of WWII
    Victory in Japan: 75th Anniversary of the End of WWII

    Japan Surrenders

    World War II, the bloodiest conflict in history, came to an end in a 27-minute ceremony on board the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, six years and one day after the war erupted in Europe. On that September morning in 1945, Japanese officials signed a... Read more

  • National Inventors’ Day
    National Inventors’ Day

    To celebrate National Inventors’ Day, learn about Marjorie S. Joyner and her groundbreaking permanent wave machine, an innovation that revolutionized the time-intensive task of curling or straightening women’s hair. Over her 50-year career, Joyner trained thousands of students and helped write the first cosmetology laws in... Read more